Tag Archives: The Hill

How do you say it in, oh, Mandarin?

Donald J. Trump has been facing this scrutiny ever since he rode down that escalator at Trump Tower and declared his intention to “Put America First” while campaigning for the presidency of the United States.

Reuters News Agency reports that the Trump re-election campaign has getting its “Keep America Great” banners from a factory in the People’s Republic of China. The Trump team denies it. Reuters stands by the story.

I am going to go with Reuters’s version of events.

You see, Trump and his team have demonstrated repeatedly their ability to lie to our faces. They’ve done so on almost any and every issue under the sun. They get away with it in the eyes of the “base” that continues to support the president.

The Hill reports: Manager Yao Yuanyuan told Reuters that she was worried Trump’s own tariffs would hurt production numbers, but said she did not know if the banners’ buyers were officially affiliated with the Trump campaign or the GOP.

Yao said her factory has been making Trump banners since the president was a candidate. 

There have numerous reports ever since Trump entered the rough-and-tumble world of politics about Trump-brand clothing being made offshore. Trump hasn’t denied it categorically. So, there’s a history of his using foreign labor to manufacture items with his name on them.

Should it surprise a single person that he would do so with the re-election campaign banners? Hah! Not even …

White House sinks to new level of juvenile petulance

A reporter for CNN has found out she has friends.

Her colleagues are standing with her in the wake of a petulant White House decision to bar her from a press event in the Rose Garden.

What got Kaitlin Collins in trouble with the White House? She asked some tough questions. That’s it, man! She was doing her job.

Well, the White House banishment of her hasn’t gone over well. Get a load of this statement from Fox News, the favorite cable network of Donald John Trump Sr: “We stand in strong solidarity with CNN for the right to full access for our journalists as part of a free and unfettered press” Fox President Jay Wallace says in statement.

A “free and unfettered press” needs “full access” to the people in power. Yep, they do. Jay Wallace’s defense of Collins is spot on.

Donald Trump is demonstrating time and again that he possesses the thinnest skin in a president since, oh, Richard M. Nixon. That goes back more than four decades. President Nixon was known to exact revenge against media members, particularly the Washington Post, which led the journalistic investigation into that “third-rate burglary” known as Watergate.

This president, No. 45, is setting a new standard for presidential petulance.

As The Hill reported: “Wannabe tyrant Donald Trump is banning reporters he doesn’t like from official press events,” McGovern tweeted. “Journalists like [CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins] ask questions not just for their news outlet, but on behalf of all Americans.”

“Shutting them out is a slap in the face to our democracy,” he added.

Except that the president shows us damn near daily that he is ignorant of the value that a free press brings to a free society.

Come clean on the Trump-Putin meeting

I am not the first person to say this out loud, but I’ll say it anyway.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin need to tell the world what the hell they talked about in that closed-door meeting in Helsinki, Finland. Come clean, Messrs. President. You represent nearly 500 million people between you. The world wants to know.

Republican lawmakers are starting to put a bit of heat on the president. According to The Hill: Congressional Republicans are urging the White House to get ahead of the Kremlin by defining what was and wasn’t agreed to. What was said between the two leaders, they admit, remains a disconcerting mystery.

Not only that, Americans need some clarity on the questions that are gnawing at many of them: What, if anything, does Putin have on Trump? Why won’t the U.S. president seriously condemn the Russian president’s ordering of the attack on our electoral system in 2016? Where will the path to bilateral friendship take the two nations? Did the leaders make any verbal agreements between them? If yes, then what the hell are they?

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., also wonders whether a proposed second Trump-Putin summit is going to implement some mystery agreements.

Then there’s this, also from The Hill: Members of Congress worry that Russia will use the Helsinki summit to undermine U.S. relations with NATO allies, especially with former East bloc and Soviet states that Putin views as within his country’s traditional sphere of influence.

Lots of questions. Lots of mystery. We need some transparency and accountability. Now!

Nice try, Mr. President … but there was no one else

Let’s try to speak with some clarity on this Russian meddling matter and whether the president of the United States actually believes the U.S. intelligence agencies’ assessment of the situation.

Donald Trump said Monday he had no reason to believe the Russians would have attacked our 2016 election system.

Then today he said he had no reason to believe the Russians would not have done it.

Oh, but then he said that maybe “others” did it, too, all while expressing full faith and confidence in the CIA, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies’ belief in their conclusions about Russian meddling.

As The Hill reported: “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump said, reading from a prepared statement in front of reporters at the White House.

But he added: “Could be other people also. A lot of people out there.”

Read my lips, Mr. President: Our spooks say the Russians did it! They did it by themselves. They had no help. There was no “400-pound guy lying on his bed.” The 29-page indictment handed down identifies 12 Russian military officers as the culprits … allegedly.

I have to ask, Mr. President: Do you support our intelligence network fully, or not?

And many of us are still waiting for a full-throated condemnation of Vladimir Putin and his Russian hierarchy for launching their attack on our political system, which the president took an oath to defend.

Senate panel takes command of the obvious

The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has weighed in with what the rest of the country — except for perhaps one man — already knows.

The Russians meddled in our 2016 presidential election and worked to elect Donald J. Trump as president of the United States.

Senators have concurred with what every intelligence expert in this country — and some around the world — have concluded. The Russians attacked our electoral process.

According to The Hill: “The Committee has spent the last 16 months reviewing the sources, tradecraft and analytic work underpinning the Intelligence Community Assessment and sees no reason to dispute the conclusions,” said Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said in a statement.

Did you note that Burr is a Republican? That he’s the chairman of the panel? That he has done what his GOP colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee failed to do, which is issued a bipartisan conclusion?

Trump, meanwhile, continues to give the Russians a pass. He won’t condemn their actions as a virtual act of war on our electoral system. He won’t scorch Russian President Vladimir Putin the way he has, say, the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement communities. Justice Department and FBI leaders have been vilified by the president, who cannot bring himself to say publicly what intelligence experts have said for months, that the Russians meddled in our election.

The Hill reports: All in all, the Senate panel’s report was a unflinching contradiction of many of the core claims made by Trump allies in the House. 

Read The Hill story here.

Will the president take this latest confirmation any more seriously than he has the previous reports? Absolutely not!

Indeed, he’s getting ready to meet with Putin in a few days in Helsinki, Finland. Don’t expect the president to criticize the Russian strongman over his attack on our election.

Newspaper pushes back against POTUS

The Annapolis (Md.) Capital Gazette has laid it on the line.

In a letter made public this weekend, the newspaper said it won’t forget that Donald J. Trump has continually labeled the media “the enemy of the American people.”

“We won’t forget being called an enemy of the people,” the staff wrote. “No, we won’t forget that. Because exposing evil, shining light on wrongs and fighting injustice is what we do.”

A gunman armed with a shotgun walked into the Capital Gazette newsroom this past week and killed five employees. Four of them were journalists; the fifth was a sales assistant.

The suspect isn’t cooperating with the police who arrested him. Thus, we don’t yet know with absolute certainty what motivated him to open fire on the Capital Gazette. Yes, he lost a defamation lawsuit he had filed against the newspaper.

But the Capital Gazette has leveled a thinly veiled response to Trump’s continual verbal assault on the media.

Yes, the president issued appropriate remarks condemning the attack against the newspaper, saying that journalists “like all Americans” deserve the right to do their jobs without being “violently attacked.”

But according to The Hill: CNN’s John Berman called the president out on air for using the phrase “violently attacked,” saying that he “clearly has no problem at all verbally attacking journalists.”

It is long past time to tone down the anti-media rhetoric. Are you up to the challenge, Mr. President?

Conway bristles at legitimate question

CNN correspondent Dana Bash doesn’t need little ol’ me to defend her … but I’ll defend her anyway.

Bash interviewed White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway over the weekend and asked her what I believe is a totally legitimate question. Conway bristled bigly at the inquiry, suggesting that Bash wouldn’t have asked the question of a man. Bash said she would “a thousand percent.”

Bash wanted to know how Conway handles the tweets that have come from her husband, noted lawyer George Conway, that have been quite critical of Donald J. Trump’s policy pronouncements.

George Conway has since taken the message down from his Twitter account, but … as they say: You can’t unhonk the horn.

Kellyanne Conway took serious umbrage at Bash’s line of questioning.

What I heard, though, was Bash inquiring about whether a senior policy adviser to the president of the United States had any issues with her husband — who happens to be a highly regarded and respected lawyer in D.C. — questioning the policies delivered by the Leader of the Free World.

I didn’t detect any snarkiness in Bash’s question. I didn’t hear any disrespect in her voice. I heard a serious-minded question that deserved a serious-minded response.

Instead, we all heard Kellyanne Conway impugn the integrity of a serious broadcast journalist working for a serious media organization. As The Hill reported: “It’s fascinating to me that CNN would go there, but it’s very good for the whole world to have just witnessed … that it’s now fair game how people’s spouses and significant others may differ with them,” Conway told CNN’s Dana Bash.

To borrow a word from Conway’s boss: Sad.

Chaos is Trump’s guiding light

Every single attempt to predict what Donald Trump will do seems to result in head-scratching, hair-pulling, forehead-slapping frustration.

With that, I have to suggest that reporting today that the president might be back away from threats to fire the special counsel and the deputy U.S. attorney general who appointed him is an exercise in futility.

The Hill is reporting that special counsel Robert Mueller and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein are safe … for the time being.

How does The Hill know this? Beats me, man.

The Hill noted that Trump said during a presser with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Mueller and Rosenstein “are still here” despite months of conjecture that the president might fire one or both of them.

According to The Hill: That said, predicting Trump’s next move has long been a fool’s errand. Some people in his orbit insist that his underlying anger about the investigation is as strong as ever. 

There you have it. Trump cannot be pigeonholed. He operates in a sort of parallel political universe. The norms that guide conventional political behavior do not apply to this guy.

He seemingly has no one in what passes for his “orbit” who can tell him the truth. There’s no Bobby Kennedy figure, or James Baker consigliere who can tell the president that he’s acting foolishly.

This carnival barker listens only to one voice. His own. I keep circling back to the notion that his prior pre-presidential life was dedicated only to personal enrichment.

The president of the United States does not understand the intricacies of the profession to which he was elected.

None of it!

What will he do with regard to Mueller? Or Rosenstein? Any effort to try to stay ahead of this guy only produces extreme madness.

But … he likes it that way. Right?

Here’s a thought: Stress diplomacy over nukes

Donald Trump has offered a word of praise to Hawaii officials.

The president lauds them for taking “full responsibility” for the near-panic caused when someone “pushed the wrong button” and sent out an false alarm that declared there was an incoming missile from … possibly North Korea.

As The Hill reports:

“That was a state thing but we are going to now get involved with them. I love that they took responsibility. They took total responsibility,” Trump told reporters Sunday.

“But we are going to get involved. Their attitude and their — I think it is terrific. They took responsibility. They made a mistake,” he continued.

When asked what he will do to prevent a similar false alert from taking place, Trump didn’t answer directly but said, “we hope it won’t happen again.

He added, again according to The Hill:

“Part of it is people are on edge, but maybe eventually we will solve the problem so they won’t have to be so on edge,” Trump said.

Yes, they are “on edge,” Mr. President. Indeed, Trump’s bellicosity along with the unpredictability of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has put millions of Americans — not just those in Hawaii — on edge.

With that, I’ll offer a modest suggestion for the president: How about stressing diplomacy and setting aside the threats of “fire and fury,” “total annihilation” and using a “big nuclear button”?

The military option we keep hearing about ought to be the option of last resort — not the first, second or third resort. Military confrontation with North Korea is, shall we say, fraught with grievous consequences.

I, too, am glad that Hawaii officials have owned their mistake. Hawaii Gov. David Ige has apologized to his constituents and, by extension, to the rest of the nation.

Yes, the federal government can get involved. The commander in chief can set aside the tough talk and start sending signals to North Korea that it’s time to settle our differences through diplomacy.

A new AG is on his/her way?

Donald John Trump Sr.’ s “fine-tuned machine” has hit another pot hole.

It has opened up in the Department of Justice. The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is now getting skewered by foes on both sides of the political divide.

Democrats detest Sessions mostly for partisan reasons; now even some Republicans are turning on him. Some of them dislike his recusal from the Russian 2016 election meddling investigation, which led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller; others dislike him because he rescinded an Obama administration memo that allowed states to determine how to enforce laws governing the use of marijuana.

As The Hill reports: “When you have Republicans calling for you to step down and you’re in a Republican administration just entering your second year, that’s trouble. He’s really on borrowed time,” said Brian Darling, a Republican strategist and former Senate aide.

Donald Trump himself is angry at Sessions. Why? The recusal, that’s why. The president once said that if he’d known Sessions would have recused himself from the Russia probe he would have selected someone else.

Now we hear from the media that Trump sent White House counsel Don McGahn to the DOJ to try to talk Sessions out of recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

All of this is highly unusual. It borders on bizarre. It also speaks — yet again — the disarray that has become the hallmark of Donald Trump’s administration.

He called it a “fine-tuned machine.” It is nothing of the sort. It is a jalopy in need of a top-to-bottom overhaul.